Emergency Management and Our Role in Sustainability

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Dr. Schneider:   Emergency managers need to have that same level of respect and cultivate that same level of professionalism. And I think it’s beginning to happen and hopefully, it will continue to happen.

Todd DeVoe:     Hi, and welcome to EM Weekly, your emergency management podcast. And this is your host, Todd DeVoe. As emergency managers, we are faced with lots of natural and manmade disasters. These are becoming stronger and more complex as the population grows and the climate changes, the skills of emergency management as they’re getting better too. As we get more educated emergency managers coming out of the colleges and universities. However, you know, you’ve seen heavier rainstorms, larger hurricanes, more massive fires that are striking, every year. Can we keep up with demand as emergency managers? Well, today, I’m talking to Dr. Robert Schneider about emergency managers and sustainability.

Todd DeVoe:     Now, onto the interview.

Todd DeVoe:     Doctor Schneider. Welcome to EM Weekly.

Dr. Schneider:   Well, thank you. Happy to be with you.

Todd DeVoe:     So, let’s talk about, your, your book here that’s out here, emergency management and sustainability. And how do you see that the cross sections specifically between EM and sustainability?

Dr. Schneider:   Okay. That wouldn’t be in the book I wrote back in 2013.

Todd DeVoe:     Yes.

Dr. Schneider:   And, it was the product of many years of work. Um, and, and I’ll, I’ll give you a little bit of preview before I get into the, your question., I became interested in, in, in emergency management primarily when Dennis Mileti published that book, Disasters by Design. And this was the era in which disaster mitigation, what’s a hot topic? This was the period when James Lee Witt had started project impact, which if you recall, I think it made a huge difference., the projects that were funded by project impact got communities across the country involved with serious mitigation planning. It not only involved local governments at partnering with the Federal Government, but all businesses and, and, and citizens and genuine national dialogue about it. Disaster Mitigation. Well, that lit my fire. Okay. That lit my fire, and that was my focus for a good long time.

Dr. Schneider:   And by the time, I got around to writing this book that you’ve asked about. , it occurred to me that one, it was probably most important about the emergency management profession if it is going to actually be a professional was the connectivity between its work in hazard mitigation and the creation of hazard resilient and sustainable communities. , you know, if you think back okay, to the beginning of the whole mitigation. All right, thanks for Gilbert White, the great geographer who is the father of modern flood plain management and he said over 70 years ago; floods are acts of God. Flood damages are largely the acts of men and what that, and what that means of course is it’s what we build, how we build it, where we build it. That is often the determining factor in terms of how many damages we will sustain in a natural hazard scenario.

Dr. Schneider:   And, and so that was kind of the driving force behind the, not only my work over the years, but that book to make that a vocal focal point. Emergency Management, as it began to define itself as a profession. The creation of sustainable communities, hazard resilient communities requires the input, the expertise of those who assessed the risks, those who understand the vulnerabilities and those who know the importance of, of what we build, where we build it, and how we build it in relation to the threats and vulnerabilities. So that was the motivation behind the book. And that’s really what I’m trying to drive that with that particular book. It’s too yes to highlight the important role in emergency management as a profession can play. Okay. Decisions that are made at the community level, decisions regarding development decisions regarding, intergenerational and Intro, generational, equity. You know, we’re passing this on to our children and, and, and so that was, that was the motivation, and that was sort of the theme.

Todd DeVoe:     So moving kind of from there then you came into managing the climate crisis, um, where, how do you see the virtue measure of professional profession fitting into managing the climate crisis?

Dr. Schneider:   Well, I think, you know, we must understand, and I’m not certain everybody in the field is in total agreement about this, but it is a relevant variable that needs to be considered in the world that emergency managers do. Yeah. Climate Change. If we understand the science, and, take a good look at it is, in fact, changing the vulnerabilities and the risks that every community faces in relation to natural disasters. , you know, we’ve seen, we’ve seen in recent years what I’ve been called, unprecedented events, historic storms, and here in North Carolina, I’ve experienced two of them in the last 23 months. Know we had a Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and less than two years later, Hurricane Florence and both of both of those storms were considered historic in terms of their impact, not only on the coastal areas but inland. In fact, even in my home, I had to leave my house by boat during Michael.

Dr. Schneider:   And we sustained damage during Florence because of flooding that we had never seen in the previous 25 years I lived there. But now suddenly, within that 23 months period, we have two events that are considered what, 500-year type events., and we see we’ve just had an, a significant storm coming up from Florida and just recently, Michael, which caused devastating damage down there. And it really went up to the entire east coast, isn’t it? We see more and more and more of these so-called unprecedented events. And my point is that maybe we need to stop using that word on precedent.

Dr. Schneider:   What we’re looking at is the new normal, and that new normal is something that has been very predictable. In fact, in the, in that book managing the climate crisis by summarized a lot of the projections that were being made. And just in two years since that book was published, amazing how many of the things I wrote about there have actually come to pass. what we’re seeing is that climate change is directly impacting, what we’re experiencing with natural disasters. It’s not causing natural disasters necessarily. I mean there are always going to be, there’s always going to be the next storm, right? Right. There’s always going to be a tropical event. There’s always going to be a drought. But what is happening is the changes in the climate are intensifying these experiences. And, and, for example, with hurricanes, you’ve got more moisture in the air, so you’re going to have more rain.

Dr. Schneider:   You have changed frontal systems. They’re slowing down storms or are stalling. I was amazed, you know, during Florence to see that it was moving at one or two miles per hour and with the amount of rain that was dropping. Yeah. That’s asking for trouble. So, the point is at least risk, and vulnerabilities are changing, and we need to factor that into our risk assessments., you cannot ignore climate change., it must be factored into our risk assessment as we prepare our communities for future disasters. But also, as we think in terms of disaster mitigation, we do need to do more serious thinking about what we can do to mitigate these more serious threats. Some of that may mean encouraging our communities and our citizens to get more invested in, in some of the techniques of soft than hard mitigation.

D. Schneider:     But it may also mean that we must think in the broader context in terms of, policy, you know, public policy, the greatest mitigating policy would be to of course stop emitting carbon into the atmosphere. Stop making the problem worse. But, but, but that’s beyond the, beyond the focus of emergency management. But what emergency managers do need to do is to two factor fat or climate risk into their definition of the risks at the community level. In fact, in some countries like Canada that’s taking place, as we speak, I think under Craig Fugate FEMA, was starting to move in that direction. I think they’ve backed off from it now. In fact, I, came across some information a few, a couple of weeks ago under Barack long that FEMA is no longer considering climate change, and it’s preparation for future disasters

Todd DeVoe:     I was reading on that though. It seemed to be that it’s not going to be a focus, but they’re integrating it into all sections of, of the, of the planning. So

Dr. Schneider:   yeah. Well, that that would be good. But on the other hand, I think it should be a focus because of it probably the single variable that’s going to accelerate the risks more than anything else.

Todd DeVoe:     That’s a great segue actually into my next question. The book that you just came out with in March of this year is when science and politics collide. And like anything else, like any other government driven agency, it was emergency management. We are driven by what the policies of our policymakers are, which are elected officials for the most part. And how do we bridge that gap when we start talking like North Carolina? I think it was pretty short, North Carolina that the legislators like have voted say that there is no climate change or they’re not going to use that science. Am I correct on that?

Dr. Schneider:   Yeah, it was, it had to do with the rising sea level. If you look at the predictions for sea level rise, it places many coastal areas out in the outer banks in jeopardy. And it was going to; it was going to impact some of the development out there. It was going to elevate insurance rates, prevent people from building some of the luxury and facilities they wanted to build, build the vacation spots and, and so, and you know, they didn’t like that and the legislature was persuaded by the developers and a few others, two and not base, projection of sea level rise and climate change projections, but rather to use the historical model, which will have lower, you know, which will project lower, lower sea level rise. And those will be better projections for developers, but they’re going to be flat out wrong projections. Sea level’s going to rise a lot more than the historical pattern and a, and it is going to place a lot of structure up there and in jeopardy.

Todd DeVoe:     So we have an example here now, a direct example, when you have science based information that is not up to what the political considerations are. So they’re definitely colliding, which is now putting more pressure on the or the emergency managers and the complete rescue system as a whole. How do we, as emergency managers, balance that between politics and what we know to be good?

Dr. Schneider:   Very good question. And a very difficult one as you know., and you know, we’re just a minute. Emergency managers have faced a variation of this problem even on simple matters. I mean there’s, there’s the old joke. Yeah. The county commissioner asks, the local emergency director of emergency management explained to me what you do. And he says, well, my job is to tell you things you don’t want to hear, ask you to spend money. You don’t have to address problems. You don’t think we’ll ever exist. Right. So, I mean, that’s Kind of been the dilemma all along to educate the policy makers. All right. Whether it be the city council, the county commission, the state legislature, the Congress, the emergency manager has always been in that position of having to, to provide, that sort of input. And as the issues become more complicated, of course, it’s not just the emergency manager, the emergency manager does have, the help of science when it comes to things like climate change but communicating to the decision makers always the most difficult thing.

Dr. Schneider:   And one of the, one of the things about the new book managing, I mean, when science and politics collide, which by the way is available, on Amazon and it’s on sale right now, and you can get a reduced price and get it at a reduced price commercial. But the main thing in that book, I, that book kind of grew out of a question when I was writing about good the climate risks and vulnerabilities in relation to, the future. Why do people and why do politicians for that matter not want to hear that? Why did they deny some of the things that science is saying? And that caused me to, okay, to want to investigate while historically, when has the relationship been between our government and science? And one of the things I’ve found is that there are four basic dynamics. That tends to influence that relationship.

Dr. Schneider:   And usually there’s one of the four that dominates in each case, although there may be two or even three of the dynamics working together. But, the dynamics and that probably will seem like common sense; one dynamic is a cooperative dynamic. The politicians in the scientists cooperate to solve a problem that day that they agree upon. Yeah. A second dynamic is a conflict. Dynamic science comes up with findings that, that certain economic interests don’t want to hear it because it may affect their bottom line a negative way. And so they lobbied the politicians to resist that science. the third dynamic is the resistance dynamic for reasons having to do with political ideology or religion. People will resist what science is telling them. And the fourth dynamic is the one I call the panic dynamic. You might think of that in terms of a public health emergency, a flu pandemic, right?

Dr. Schneider:   Where, but each of those dynamics, when I look at them, show me that it’s, it’s almost a flawed relationship between politics and science. You know, in the cooperative dynamic when they’re cooperating, it’s the politics. Let’s drive in the ship., think of the atomic bomb and think of the space race. Those were two major projects where science and government had to collaborate, and it was the government or the policy, political signs and things that drove that they had the goal, the objective, and they knew they needed the science, they need it, the science to accomplish the objective. When Sputnik was launched in 1957, it caused a massive reaction in this country. People were worried the Soviet Union in the Cold War, the Soviet Union, there’s now ahead of us in this space race. Does this mean that can put nuclear weapons in space? And politicians felt that it was absolutely vital for our national security in the context of the Cold War that we stay ahead of the Soviet Union technologically and in terms of applications for the arms race.

Dr. Schneider:   And so that’s what really appealed to the space race. The space race was about science, about exploring space, going to the moon. It was about achieving the ultimate position in the arms race as Lyndon Johnson. He was then the Senate majority leader said more important than having the ultimate weapon is having the ultimate position. So it was that kind of thinking, related to national defense that promoted the space race. President Kennedy, when he became president in March 1961, so I’m the director of NASA, he was canceling the Apollo Moon project one month later, the Soviet Union or orbits the earth Yuri Gagarin the first man to orbit the earth and President Kennedy is incensed and we’ve got to get back out in front of the Russians here. What are we going to do? Can we get to the moon before they do? And Lo and behold, in May, just two months after saying he was canceling it, he gave a second state of the union in less than three or four months.

Dr. Schneider:   And in that state in the union said, we must send a man to the moon and return him safely to the earth before the decade is out. That was because she was interested in science. It was because he saw it as a national defense priority. And so was the nature of the collaboration. The politics, political concerns usually drive the collaboration far more frequently. We’ll see. It’s a matter of conflict. You know, science reaches a finding that we don’t want to accept. The cigarette companies weren’t happy when science discovered that, guess what? There’s a; there’s a linkage between smoking and lung cancer. They weren’t happy with that. They spent a lot of money trying to defeat that science; fossil fuel companies weren’t happy when they heard about climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions and convert to renewable and cleaner sources of energy.

Dr. Schneider:   And they have spent millions and millions and millions of dollars over the last three decades at least to try to discredit the consensus of climate scientists. So in that context of what we see is this kind of a tug of war and in science and politics are colliding and for the emergency manager or anybody else who’s trying to communicate, do the politician, yeah. It becomes almost impossible to cut through that conflict. You know, we might take some solace in the belief that science has always proven correct. Right. I mean, if the science was done well and it continued the study. Demonstrates that the science has been done well, it will win. I mean, we know that the earth orbits the sun, Right. Galileo, Galileo discovered that and a lot of people denied it for a long time, including the Catholic Church that day. They, they were rather negative towards had discovery.

Dr. Schneider:   but science won, we all know that the earth goes around the sun today and even the Catholic church apologize to Galileo without apology came 350 years after he was dead.

Todd DeVoe:     Right. And so they put under house arrest for years,

Dr. Schneider:   Oh, yes. Oh yes, yes, yes he was. He was. And keep in mind, that’s the ultimate question. The science will ultimately win. The question is, will it win in a timely manner so that it makes a difference? I mean if 350 years from now, okay, people say, well, we were wrong about climate change. Let’s, that’s to be too late. I mean we need, we need to, so I guess I’m not answering your question because it’s a difficult one to answer. What can emergency managers do? I think the one thing they can do simply in doing their jobs is to the factory the science to their calculus of risk and vulnerability. You don’t even have to mention the words climate change because some people get upset when you do what you do. Assess risk and vulnerability, right? Right. And you can factor these trends into that assessment and then do very best to do what we always do, which is tried to convey that to the decision maker in a manner that will encourage them to devote either the time or the resources necessary to make sure we are prepared. It’s made sure that we have a resilient community.

Todd DeVoe:     I kind of feel the same way I feel as a person is as an emergency manager, I can’t directly affect the climate change or reversal of so forth. I guess I just read this thing the other day that there’s, I think we have like 13 years left before we were beyond repair. Something along those lines, but at least I could do is prepare my jurisdiction for the effects of that, especially the coastal communities and things like this is that they think that’s the appropriate take.

Dr. Schneider:   Yeah, I think, I think you need to make it local. We all need to make climate change local. I mean the impacts, you’re going to be different in California than they are in North Carolina. That they’re going to be different in Wisconsin, they’re going to be different in different parts of the country and the world. Some places will be hot, or some will be called reset, will be wet, or some will be drier. And I think to make it local also works with the population you serve. They are experiencing drought or wildfires, right. Or, or here we are experiencing grapples, tropical storms, and these events when they can be mined by the emergency manager to help to help. Okay., get the message out about, okay, our risks and vulnerabilities are changing and if you’re factoring climbing into that assessment of risk and vulnerability, and, and applying it to the local level you’re doing, you’re doing okay. Absolutely. Everything you need to do, in, in, in, in it.

Dr. Schneider:   And what’s happening in our national politics. Okay. As you know, is often at odds with what is happening in, in our local politics. For example, while the national government’s backing off of trying to address climate change under the current administration, the state of California has made tremendous progress in trying to address some of these issues. And we can look around the country and see different states and even different cities and localities, are taking concrete steps to a fit within their jurisdiction to address the issue of climate change, even if they’re not mentioning it by name.

Todd DeVoe:     Right. Well, a good example of California. I think it is by 2020. All new homes have to have solar panels built on our roofs and things like that debate that we talk. And I, I guess I’m sitting on the fence on this. And so we were discussing the ideals and the idea of the electric cars, right? So, the idea is, you know, you get this car has a bunch of batteries, and it’s electric, but you’re still using carbon to charge that car up. And they also have the reduced, you know, some of the batteries that at some point have to be recycled or done something with, with the acids in the Leads and stuff that are in there. But the ideal of the electric car is that we’re going to create something that is going to be beneficial for society regarding carbon emissions, um, and, and the reduction of the, of use of fossil fuels. How can we get those, the idea of the car and the ideal of the car combined together to where it’s actually reducing that carbon footprint. Because I don’t see it 100% yet or will ever be 100%

Dr. Schneider:   well, I, you know, I honestly don’t know if it’ll ever be, but I do know. Reducing the carbon footprint is itself. That phrase in somewhat is somewhat, misleading. We need to do more than reduce it. Okay. I think of the bathtub. Okay. And, and think of that bathtub being full of water. The water spec that is wide open in the bathtub is overflowing. Right?

Dr. Schneider:   Think that is being in the analogy to the earth being overloaded with carbon and spilling over the side, reducing the PLO, reducing the emission of water or carbon doesn’t stop the problem because the tub is still falling over flowing. Right? Right. So, so either you must figure out how to remove water from the tub or carbon from the air faster and then we’re putting it in, or you must turn the faucet off. And increasingly it is beginning to look when you take a look at, yeah. The carbon that’s already been accumulated in the atmosphere, that the only, the main step that will ultimately be successful as turning the carbon off. And of course, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Right? But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to reduce the flow of carbon or to reduce the amount we’re putting into the air.

Dr. Schneider:   It’s a good thing. And then for those who say, well, you know, why should we do that? Other countries are admitting more. I would point out two things. One, oh, on a per capita basis, Americans emit more carbon than anybody else. And secondly, I would point out that whether you admit or slow, a little level of a mission, what you do in one part of the planet affects the whole planet. So it does make a positive or negative difference depending on what you do. This is a global situation and up., but you know, again, I think, we are, we think of it this way, we are in taking baby steps. We’re in a state of infancy right now in addressing climate change. I mean, we knew as early as 1988 that anthropogenic or human caused climate change was a reality that in June of 1988, James Hansen and other climate scientists testified before the United States Senate and said that the science is now conclusive this is happening.

Dr. Schneider:   And that’s what, three decades ago. And in those three decades time, what we’ve done is to have a political food fight okay. About whether we think it’s happening or not. And we’ve had a lot of money getting spent, by fossil fuel companies to convince us it’s not happening. But in terms of what we’ve done, taking baby steps, very small baby steps, I suspect as time goes by, if we get more serious about this, give it more thought, we will be both more aggressive in terms of what we do. But we will also discover better options than what we’re looking at right now. Whether those options come through technology or through other policy options remains to be seen. But, eh, we’re just beginning to address this problem more taking baby steps, and we need to grow up and, and a mature and, and become more aggressive about, but addressing the issue.

Todd DeVoe:     Can we as emergency managers or the lead way you’re using the concepts of planning and sustainability to help reduce the issues with climate change.

Dr. Schneider:   Of course, of course. Particularly if you are, are able to factor in the data from climate science that helps you define the risk and vulnerabilities in your community. Yeah, absolutely. Planning is, you know, so critically important. And as you know, to do any close to adequate planning, you need a lot of data and information. You can’t; you can’t just roll the dice. You can’t just go on a gut level feeling. Right. You have to be driven by evidence. I think doing the job at the local level as well as you can. Okay. And Anna and if you’re, if you’re factoring in if you look at my book on the Climate Change Book

Dr. Schneider:   that came out in 2016, I go through h section of the country and talk about the different risks that they’re going to face. And if each community we’re focusing, mmm. Those things that are going to be happening in their community, and doing their level best, to mitigate, to reduce the impact of some of these events or even, you know, go beyond, that address some of the causes. A lot of positive things will happen, and it does to happen at the local level. We have to make this a local concern and who better to have to be a part of that discussion that emergency managers whose professional expertise is a natural here. I mean they are, they are the people who assess risk and vulnerability. They are the people who think about mitigation. They are the people who try to communicate with the whole community and with the decision makers. They’re in a very important, and I think potentially influential position.

Todd DeVoe:     I agree. All right. You’re really a lot because number one, we’re out in the community listening to their concerns and I think that we could bring those back to our policy makers and have really listened to us when we have their ear, that’s for sure.

Dr. Schneider:   And, as, as the profession becomes more stable and it has a solid reputation and enhances your ability to do that., yeah. When you go to the, to the doctor, let’s say you go to a specialist heart specialist and you trust that professional don’t you? And you probably wouldn’t talk to your auto mechanic and see what he thought about your heart.

Dr. Schneider:   emergency managers need to have that same level of respect and cultivate, that same level of professionalism and I think it’s beginning to happen, and hopefully it will continue to happen so that they do convey what they know, whether to the public or the decision maker. It is regarded as a solid professional input.

Todd DeVoe:     If somebody is looking to get a hold of you and your books, how could they do so?

Dr. Schneider:   Oh, all three of my books are available on Amazon., they can also be ordered directly from the publisher. A Prager is his publisher of two of them, my books, the science book, and the Climate Change Book. But if you go on the line and take a look at Amazon, you’ll see them all there. And, as I say, the new book, when science and politics collide, is it in fact now available on Amazon for a reduced price? You can get it from about half price. Yeah. And then she’d be knowing anything about academic books. I usually cost more than popular books. I think the price right now on Amazon is very reasonable with the half price. So

Todd DeVoe:     I do too. I’m looking at it right now on Amazon, and we’ll have the link to, to your books and to, and to your, to your page here, on our show notes. So if you’re driving down the road, don’t worry about it. Check to check out a little bit later, click on the show note, and we’ll be able to get you over to there. So. Okay. So outside of your books, which I think are, are great, what book books are publication do you recommend that emergency managers should have on their bookshelf?

Dr. Schneider:   Aside from mine? That is, well, one I read recently and it, and I really think it’s important, was The Great Influenza by John M. Barry, having written about the influenza pandemics in the science book. And having looked at some of the professional assessments that suggest we are not prepared as a nation for the, for a major national health emergency. that book was interesting. The Great Influenza, is the story of the 1918 Spanish flu. The flu that killed more people in the United States that did all of World War II, for example. Yeah. It was the, probably the worst flu pandemic., we have had maybe ever. Yeah. Frightening enough. And you may recall about a decade ago; we had some concerns about, a bird flew the h five and one. That’s right. Right. And, and since that time, we’ve had other newer strains coming out that we’ve been concerned about.

Dr. Schneider:   Most of the experts will tell you that we are overdue for another major flu pandemic. And if something like that were to happen today, it could actually be worse than it was 1918 because it would travel much quicker around the world. Right. Air flight and all the rest. And, and one of the things we’ve learned just studying the response to the Ebola outbreak in 1914 [2014] or thereabouts and then later the Zika outbreak, not only in the United States but worldwide. We are not prepared to respond efficiently and, and quickly enough if these were major, had been major, and endemic situations, there would have been, and tremendous catastrophe simply because we weren’t prepared to respond officially. Part of the problem there. And that goes back to the, one of the dynamics in the science book. Yeah. Panic dynamic. We don’t, even though the science is good, okay.

Dr. Schneider:   Public Health, officials will tell you the science is good. The scientists can help us understand, the potential, the potential for disease outbreak and they can, they can help you investigate the future and see what’s common. But we don’t respond until the spam hits the pan. And that that is often too late. Wait, public policy makers tend to be reactive rather than proactive. And as we know in the field of emergency management, You know, being proactive. They cancer mitigation. Yeah. Being proactive, spending a dollar there will save me $6 in recovery. Right. So, so, but, but that’s not the way most people think. It’s certainly not the way politicians bait. Right? So, they tend to be reactive, but being reactive to, help, international or global health prices would be to, to be a little bit too slow.

Dr. Schneider:   It would, it would create unnecessary suffering and death. So that’s why that book, resonated with me is great influenza because, because, I had written about it in my book when science and politics, Caroline, I’ve seen the contemporary, assessments that suggest we’re not ready. Not only aren’t we ready, you know, when we do have something happened, I think back to the Ebola situation, it really wasn’t a big threat to the United States, was it? and, but if you recall, there was a little bit of panic in some places about it, now and we didn’t, and the world didn’t get really big and respond in a timely manner. By the time the United States got around to addressing Ebola, there were already six, excuse me, already about 6,000, 7,000 deaths from it in West Africa and 25, 30,000 cases of it.

Dr. Schneider:   Of course. What really made us get serious with what, when eight people came to the United States with Ebola . And so, the news was full of Ebola and people were beginning to panic unnecessarily. The health experts at the scientists, they could, they could tell us, the look does your chances of catching an Ebola from a traveler are next to zero. It’s a very, very slight chance. And if you do our capacity traded as much greater than West Africa, you should be okay. No, instead, people didn’t get a little bit, concern. I remember two nurses who traded one of these patients came down with it also, and that got big coverage. And Lo and behold, as always happens in situations like this, sometimes on uninformed people get on the internet or on Twitter and then make matters a little bit worse. There was a private citizen at the time, I think his name was Donald J. Trump got on, got on Twitter, something that parent, apparently the guy likes Twitter during the Ebola crisis, and I’m paraphrasing because I don’t have the quote in front of me, but it is in my book. He said they said, well, the people who go too far away places to help are great, but they should be banned from coming back to the United States because they’re going to infect us all with Ebola.

Dr. Schneider:   And even after, even after the public health experts are telling us the risk is very, very low. He comes out with another tweet that says, , the, the, your chances of catching Ebola or a much greater than the CDC or the government is telling it when, so you know, that’s the last thing you need in the middle of a public health crisis, Is it somebody on social media who’s uninformed, who is, is simply not connected to the facts, spreading all sorts of, of misinformation that will go rile people up. So it, that’s just one small concern that I have about a possible public health emergency. My greater concern is that our slowness to act, um, I don’t know if you’re aware of it, if there were a flu pandemic, we wouldn’t have a vaccine available immediately,

Speaker 1:           That pandemic would be a mutating thing and would take a while to get that vaccine out there., I think to thank our capacity because the government is kind of plugged into that is, is a little bit better there, but, but, there’s always going to be that period of delay. And what do you do in that period? We, our, our planning is not complete here. Our planning is incomplete; our capacity to act efficiently and quickly send out. Okay. And, and then, of course, there is the political fight. Well, should we allocate money for this or no, you’re going to have a political fight about that. That will slow the response down more and cause more catastrophes and genuine, public health emergency. So I’m scared to death of that.

Todd DeVoe:     Yeah, me too. Actually. You know, I mean, I know that when we’re looking at a flu outbreak, they had to find out what the strain is and go back and then that produced the shot for it, right because they must follow. Right. Yeah. So that’s crazy. Well, before I let you go, is there anything you’d like to say directly to the emergency manager?

Dr. Schneider:   Okay. Well, of course, I’m an academic. Okay. Um, I’m a political scientist by training who studies, emergency management from a 30,000-foot level. Okay. and I have great respect for those who are on ground level doing the work. But one of the things that I’ve discovered, yeah, to people like us get together, the guy working on the ground and the people looking at it from 30,000 feet, we often, we often collaborate in ways that are very constructive and very good. So that’s one of the things I’ve always respected about emergency management. Many of the people in the field want that kind of relationship; they subscribed to some of the journals that we publish in. They are constantly looking to upgrade their knowledge. And I think that is one of the most of trying to pay interest in fact about the film. Is it hunger and the thirst people have for continuing to expand their knowledge. So I hope that you’ll continue to do that in this field. And I also hope that, that emergency managers working at the local level, real nice, in terms not just of their community, but really in terms of our national interest, what they do is so vitally important and, don’t ever feel, doesn’t make a difference.

Todd DeVoe:     Well, sir, I appreciate your time this morning. I know you got to get going, but, I love to have you back on sometime.

Dr. Schneider:   I’d love to do it. Thanks a lot.


Website: https://www.uncp.edu/profile/dr-robert-o-schneider

Email: robert.schneider@uncp.edu


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